There was a big turnout on Sunday afternoon for a charity walk in memory of a Derry teenager who died earlier this year from a rare blood disorder.
Hundreds of people gathered at St Columb’s Park for the start of the ‘Walk for Life’ fundraising event organised by Helen Toland whose son, Patrick (15), died in January just weeks after being diagnosed with Haemophagocytosis.
Helen organised the event to raise funds for an MRI scanner for the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, where the St Columb’s College student was treated in the days before his death.
Hundreds of walkers - including scores of Patrick’s school friends - took part in the trek from St Columb’s Park, across the Peace Bridge to Sainsbury’s.
Helen has again stressed the importance of donating blood as Patrick had to receive dozens of blood transfusions during his illness.
“It’s key that I get the message across that blood transfusions are critical, particularly for kids that are really sick,” she said. “The eventual cause of Patrick’s death was septicemia because he didn’t have enough platelets in his blood to fight infections.
“For example, Patrick was losing so much blood that he needed a pint of blood a day during his treatment in Belfast. However, it was these transfusions that allowed the doctors to treat Patrick and keep him alive from the time he was diagnosed until he died three weeks later.
“This is why it’s vitally important that we convince more and more people to donate blood. And it’s not just blood donations - people can become platelet donors, too, which is what Patrick needed.”
Anyone wishing to make a donation towards the MRI scanner fund can do so by clicking on www.mriscannerappeal.org
Information on donating blood is available at www.nibts.org